Pirates Guest Relations

As many people, who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, know, I recently had some issues with the Pirates and their, well just the Pirates. More specifically, the Pirates front office.

Let me take you through a little time line, of my history, as a Pirates Season Ticket Holder (STH) (Why capital letters? Because we are given titles, as Season Ticket Holders):

  • December 20, 2009: M son and I were invited to PNC Park, by a Season Ticket Executive, to take a tour of the facilities and talk about the ‘perks’ of being a STH, and pricing.
  • March 23, 2010: Paid in full, my first season as a Pittsburgh Pirates STH.
  • June 27, 2011: Receive an e-mail from my Account Executive, advising me that he had been promoted and I will have a new Account Executive.
  • August 16, 2012: Arrived at PNC Park early, to watch batting practice, with my son, and was unable to gain access to the left field bleachers.

Well, you ask “What’s the big deal about that?”

Season Ticket Holders have ‘perks,’ and one of those is to gain access to the left field bleachers, for batting practice, 2 1/2 hours before the game starts, which is an hour before anybody else.

Ever since I had been switched from one Account Executive, to another, I hadn’t received any invitations, to any, in season perks (i.e. Catch batting practice, watch batting practice from the field.). Up until last week I hadn’t been invited to any in season perks, since 2010.

Me and my son played catch on the field, after the game.

My son. He, and only he, is the only reason I am a full season STH.

As some of you may know, I live over an hour away from Pittsburgh, and unable to make it to every game. So a full season just wouldn’t make sense.

On August 16th, after getting denied entry into the left field bleachers, for batting practice, I immediately went to Guest Relations. There, I filed a formal complaint.

That next day, I received a call, from the Pirates front office, and were just wanting to reconfirm all of my contact information, to try and figure out why I haven’t been getting invitations to these various events.

This morning, at 8:10 a.m., I received a call from the Pirates, again, and wanted to discuss my issues. We spoke for about 20 minutes, and was reassured they are trying to resolve any issues of communications, between them and me.

Last season, I began to notice things, through out the organization and the stadium itself.

I referred to it, in my state of anger, as the ‘flash in the pan’ of success. The Pirates being in 1st place, at the all star break. People were filling the seats and baseball had been reborn in Pittsburgh.

The bottom fell off, as we all know.

This year, they started out as a team scratching to be a mediocre team. The stars aligned and, at one point, they were the hottest team in baseball. People came, again.

The Pirates became such a hot team, there were record numbers at a Tuesday afternoon game, over 34,000 in attendance.

The service got crappy again.

There seems to be something coinciding here.

In my own opinion, the Pirates front office and in stadium staffing seem to understaffed.

The Pirates are a good team, believe it or not. Even with the recent slump. People are still going to the games and will keep going to the games, if the team is good.

As more people become STH’s and more people come to see the games, on a regular basis, it seems to me that the Pirates need to counter act with hiring more people.

I still await a resolution to the problems, that I’ve had. It’s not an overnight solution, that can be found. It’s just a waiting game, at that time.

Open Letter to Mr. Coonelly

Dear Mr. Coonelly,

I would like to start out by saying; congratulations on such a successful season, so far, the team is better than anyone has expected it to be. It is quite enjoyable to be able to go and enjoy winning baseball, again, in Pittsburgh.  There has been record amounts of people attending games, this summer, and its amazing!

With the increased attendance, obviously good for the organization, there is also the increased confusion among the crowd.

Confusion? -You ask.

Allow me to take a side step momentarily, and let you know, if you weren’t already aware, how the Penguins deal with large crowds. Until Sidney Crosby was drafted, and Mario Lemieux came out of retirement, the Penguins saw many nights that they couldn’t even fill the Mellon Arena to half capacity. Since then, they’ve had a record number of consecutive sell outs and the crowds, though a smaller venue, have been organized.

The Penguins maintain some of the confusion, to be minimalized, by simply not allowing people go to their seats during action. There is no way to stop anybody from getting up, at anytime, and leaving the section, but there is a way to stop people from returning to their seats while the game is in play, the ushers.

At the Mellon Arena and now Consol Energy Center, you are not permitted to return to your seat, during any game, while the puck is in play. It causes people to miss parts of the game and can cause confusion, and sometime hostility, among the fans.

Back to my point, as if you didn’t know where I was going.

This past Wednesday, July 26th, there were nearly 34,000 fans in attendance, for a day game! That is amazing. With weekends being nearly sell outs, and when it is a sell out, more people piling onto the rotunda, for standing room only, there are nearly 40,000 people in the stadium.

I have been a full season ticket holder since March of 2010, and enjoy nearly every minute I am at PNC Park, winning or losing. But recently, it has gotten to the point that I am unable to even keep a scorecard, for the game, due to the fact fans are flowing in and out of the section while there is action on the field.

For the fans who are there to enjoy the game, by themselves or with friends and family, it becomes quite a nuisance. On Monday, July 24th, evening alone, I counted myself having to get up and allow someone coming or going, from their seat, 19 times, as the usher would standby and do nothing. I missed a lot of plays, and had to revert to other fans or go to my MLB AT BAT 12 application on my phone, to find out what happened.

I know that there are more pressing things to take care of, with the team and the facilities, but I am simply wondering if something could be looked into, to properly resolve, or make better, the issue.

Thank You,

David A. Plavi

 

McClouth’s Standing Ovation?

I awoke early this morning, and read through a lot of tweets from yesterday evening and last night. Quickly I noticed a trend, not from the tweople I follow, but people that they retweeted. Nate McLouth.

As we all are aware, McLouth got traded to the Atlanta Braves in 2009, in return for Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez, thus triggering the promotion of Andrew McCutchen. While many of us knew of McCutchen’s potential, and knew what kind of return was had in the trade, there were many who were upset at the trade of McLouth. At the time, there is no doubt, he was arguably the best player on the team, and most of the Pirates fan base only saw the best player being traded away.

When he was signed this past off-season, to the one year deal, many people saw that as him choosing to come back to Pittsburgh, and they may have been the case, though only to lesser contracts offered to him. For those who may even be reading this, you are the demographic that are on the inside track of Pirates fans, and know more about the team than people would even know. We all know signing with the Pirates, he was looking for a chance of redemption, for his last two season plagued with injury and dismal stats.

When he came to the plate, to pinch hit, in the 9th inning, in yesterdays game, he didn’t receive a standing ovation by any means. The crowd on hand did give a great response, to his 2012 debut. I took that in two ways; for those who only know of the big league team, they were excited to have a player, who was the best on the team, return, and for the few of us whom are aware of the organization depth, and know baseball,  it was a welcome back.

We all know what McLouth has done in the past. Neal Huntington sold high and bought low, when it comes to him. He was traded when he was the best on the team (high) and he was signed as a bench player for 1.75MM (low). His output this year will be from coming off of the bench and a spot start, barring any injury.

As I was reading all of the tweets from this morning, I just couldn’t believe how many people were bashing those who did, stand and applaud his return, but should be noted: it was nowhere near a standing ovation. Nate isn’t the answer for the future, just a reliable bench player.

OPENING DAY!

It is here, yet another baseball season, and for those 39k+ that were fortunate enough make it out to PNC Park, we were all witness to a great pitchers duel.

Stepping away from the game, this was my sons, David, first ever Opening Day. From the moment he found out, over Christmas Break, he was going to go to the game, he has been counting down, and so was I. We found ourselves, immediately, back into our game day rituals; made our way for a slice of pizza, watched batting practice, and enjoyed the pre-game videos.

Though this was his first Opening Day, this was not his first sell out. The crowd was mostly a Pirates crowd, as it should be, with a few pools of Phillies fans through the stadium. There was an all around great feel, within the ball park.

Entering my 3rd full season, of being a Pirates Season Ticket Holder, there are many great things to come this season; an improved team, great games and giveaways, and most importantly, more father-son time that I, no, we both live for.

‘BALLHAWKS’ RUIN IT FOR THE KIDS

Over the past several years, there have been several news worthy stories, that have spread like wild fire, out of the Coonelly camp. Of course we all know about the Pierogi Incident of 2010, and the Bar Boycott of 2011. This years news worthy story may not have happened yet, but I am going to refer to this as the Ballhawk Policy of 2012.

In years past, the PNC Park ushers would make their way into their designated sections, before the gates open, to prepare themselves for people to be seated. As they would go through the section, they would find balls from batting practice and would place them in their bag to give to the young children in their section.

I was told today, by the usher in my section, that there is now a policy in place that states the ushers are now longer permitted to pick up any balls they may find. There were several complaints throughout the year, last year, by the ‘ballhawks,’ that all of the balls were being given to the children.

Now don’t jump down my throat here! There are several ‘ballhawks’ that do give balls to children, and they know who they are. There have been several incidents where I seen grown men, literally, running over kids to get a ball. A BALL.

Lets all be mature adults here, and stop complaining about not getting a ball.

PITTSBURGH VS. PHILADELPHIA

Its been going on for years, Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia.

We all know how the Philadelphia fans are. Rude. Obnoxious. Many, many more adjectives. The rivalry is more prominent in hockey, football seemingly is just a put on by TV networks airing the games, but the two series a year the two meet, in baseball,  have been getting more heated and one sided since 2009.

Ever since the Phillies won the World Series, in 2008, the fans have been ever so arrogant and don’t remember 1985 – 2001. In that 17 year span, the Phillies had a losing record in all but one season, 1993, when they won the NL East.

There were a group of middle aged Phillies fans sitting in front of me today, and with every video played, play made and cheer had, they immediately mentioned the 19 straight losing season. Several Pirates fans would try to quiet them, but failed.

“Go get a real hockey team!” “Hockey starts at 7” – One point, Phillie fans.

“We won more World Series than you did!” “Yea, but our last one was four years ago” – I’ll call that one a draw

“How’s your NBA team doing?” “I don’t know, are the 6ers even playing?” -One point, Pirates fan.

Lets do everyone a favor, if you’re at a baseball game, don’t bring up hockey and vice versa. But most importantly, WHEN, not IF this team makes it deep into the playoffs, do not become arrogant like Philadelphia fans.

 

Inside Busch Stadium

This upcoming 2012 season will be my third, as a Pittsburgh Pirates, season ticket holder. I have been fortunate enough to experience the most beautiful ballpark in America, PNC Park. Over the years, I’ve taken several tours and hundreds of games, and still can’t get enough.

The weekend of January 29th, I took my monthly visit, to see my son, in Springfield, Illinois and decided to take a short 90 mile trip to St. Louis to go to WWE: Royal Rumble. With plenty of time to kill, we decided to do a little sight seeing and ended up at Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. We had went to a game there, in September of 2010, as the Pirates took the win from the Cardinals.

After purchasing tickets, for the tour, we entered at the 3rd base gate, where the statue of Cardinal Great Stan Musial, stood. As the tour guides took us around the ballpark, we first visited the Champions Lounge, where images and memorabilia from, the now 11, World Series Championships were on display. Also on display, was the Cardinals first ever World Series trophy, from the 1967 series (MLB didn’t award trophies until 1967).

From there we made our way to the Red Bird Club (formerly the Fred Bird Club), it is the largest private club area in all of American sporting venues, holding just over 3000 people. The club wraps around, on the second level, from the end of the Visitors dugout to the end of the Cardinals dugout, and on the exterior wall a custom made wall paper, made up of enlarged baseball cards of St. Louis Cardinals and one St. Louis Brown, Satchell Paige.

We were fortunate enough to be taken to the Cardinals radio broadcast booth, which is accessed through the Red Bird Club. The broadcast booth was very large, and center to the entire field. In the booth were several murials of Hall of Fame broadcaster, Jack Buck and his son Joe Buck.

The Cardinal Club, much like PNC Park’s Lexus Club, is a fine dining, members only club. Seated behind home plate, also known as the “Green Seats,” can not be purchased for single games. In the dining room, they have on display several items from the former Cardinals Museum, which was once located down the street from Busch Stadium. It was a beautiful restaurant setting, with valet parking and easy access to the seats.

We made our way onto the field, where we were permitted to take pictures, but not step onto the grass, and go into the Cardinals dugout. The tour was coming to a close, as the took us through the lower level, accessing the usual route taken by media and visiting players, and came across a tribute to a former Cardinals employee, who was once in charge of promotional items. The display of figurines, bobbleheads, an hundreds of other items, was only a quarter of his entire collection, after a 30 year career, before he passed in 2004.

Busch Stadium is a beautiful stadium, with a beautiful view of the city, and Arch, but not comparable to PNC Park. It is clearly larger, with 4 levels of seating, though still does have the old time baseball feel, with its classic design. The tour guides seemed to have a little, too much, pride (cockiness) about their team and boasting of their storied past. Otherwise, a good experience.

Please forgive the placement of the photo’s. I am still not used to WordPress.com

 

2012(errr ’11) Piratefest

It’s that time of year again, well at least its the new ‘that time of year.’ The Pittsburgh Pirates, along with several other MLB organizations, had their Winter Caravan / Fests a little early this year. For years, it had always been near the end of January, but the business side has won out and it was decided to have it take part  a week before Christmas.

SUCCESS!

Not many people are fans of the idea, but take a minute and think about it; Christmas shopping can be done, a lot of college students are home for the holidays and are able to attend, and we are getting to see the players before they get into baseball mode. In years past, the gloom of Spring Training was just weeks away, and they would have to cram all of their errands in, in a short amount of time.

As the Pirates organization welcomed its season ticket holders and their close friends and family to, an exclusive, Friday night at Piratefest, the Steelers and Penguins had taken a back seat, if only for the weekend. Just like any other sporting event in Pittsburgh, their was a never ending sea of Black and Gold, but for this one weekend, in December,  it was all Pirates.

Ascending the escalators, onto the main floor of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, we were welcomed, with open arms, to the festivities. For those lucky enough to have been invited early, they were able to avoid the long lines ahead of us, but it was well worth it. After the doors opened at 6:30, crowds flowed in with no hesitation.

For those who were only attending on Friday night, much like myself, there was a need for a game plan. As the advertised autograph session, for the evening, were former Pirates Doug Drabek and Jose Lind, that was an absolute need. Waiting in line for nearly and hour and a half, from the advertised ’30 Minutes From This Spot,’ it was completely worth the wait. Being able to meet two of my childhood idols, in Lind and Drabek, I was in pure and complete ‘AWE.’

After the hour and a half wait, in line, for autographs, there was only two hours to cram everything in. I immediately found myself in the game used merchandise store, where they had endless amounts of jerseys, hats, bats and balls, all certified by MLB to be authentic. Among those items were a couple great items I was able to pick up a beautiful lithograph of PNC Park, on Opening Day 2001, and a mint condition vinyl of the 1960’s Pirates theme (for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact name).

After spending a little cash, there was still a little time remaining at the Q&A session, where all the crowd had been lined up to ask their favorite Pirates some questions. There were a lot of different questions, mainly asking about twitter or planking, but one question was by far, the best. A fan had asked Michael McKenry what his first thought was, after the infamous call, in the bottom of the 19th inning, by Jerry Meals. McKenry quickly shrugged the question off, after clearly not being able to answer it to the crowd full of kids.

After taking in the Q&A for a little while, I was able to go through out the booths and get several things for my son and his collection. With Piratefest being aimed towards kids, it was a street fair atmosphere with a lot of games aimed towards those kids. I played anyway.

A few of the other booths, located through out the ‘fest, were a couple of the Pirates minor league affiliates, State College Spikes and the Bradenton Marauders, offering up some schedules and telling us about their facilities. Also found were a couple of charitable causes, mainly the Pirate Parrots’ Cruise for the Cure, where if you were able and willing to donate, to the cause, you would receive an old giveaway, and receipt if needed, for tax purposes.

As usual, they had a display of next season promotional giveaways (Pictures below).

As the night was nearing an end, the crowd began to thin and this night of Piratefest was closing out. For those who are going to attend, be sure you go and enjoy yourself. There is something there for everybody. No matter what time of year it was, it was a spectacular event.

By closing, I want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Years to you and yours.

Season Ticket Holders: Batting Practice

It was that time of year again, when the Pittsburgh Pirates organization invited its loyal customers into their facilities, for some batting practice.

As my friends and I came upon PNC Park, we were excited for what was about to happen, as we remembered from years past. Arriving on time, there was no wait time, as we were escorted from the Press entrance, into the home batting cages.

Outside of the batting cages, we were greeted by Oliver Onion.

As it got closer to being our turn, we snapped a few keepsakes. Each of us had our round, swatting at some balls, and with a small turn out for out time period we immediately got back in line, to have another go around.

The staff took notice that we were up again, and advised us all that they were done, and sent us on to the Hall of Fame Club.

As we arrived in the Hall of Fame Club, it was overheard that Joel Hanrahan and Kevin Correia were on their way out. I was able to have a couple baseballs autographed for my son, just before they left. Just like any other event, we were offered some snacks and drinks, while we finished out the night hanging and chatting with some die hard Pirate fans.

The event wasn’t as good as others from the past. It seems to me, that since they had their promotions of their account executives, this past July, service has gone down and the organization has become stingy. But tonight was about more than batting practice, it was about friends and baseball.